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Cooper-Harris Complaint FINAL

Cooper-Harris Complaint FINAL

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Complaint filed by Tracey Cooper-Harris against the Department of Defense requesting veterans' spousal benefits for her same-sex spouse.
Complaint filed by Tracey Cooper-Harris against the Department of Defense requesting veterans' spousal benefits for her same-sex spouse.

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1
COMPLAINT
CASE NO. ________________

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JOSEPH J. LEVIN, JR. (pro hac vice motion pending)
joe.levin@splcenter.org
CHRISTINE P. SUN (SBN 218701)
christine.sun@splcenter.org
CAREN E. SHORT (pro hac vice motion pending)
caren.short@splcenter.org
SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
400 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36104
Telephone: (334) 956-8200
Facsimile: (334) 956-8481

RANDALL R. LEE (SBN 152672)
randall.lee@wilmerhale.com
MATTHEW BENEDETTO (SBN 252379)
matthew.benedetto@wilmerhale.com
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP
350 South Grand Avenue, Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Telephone: (213) 443-5300
Facsimile: (213) 443-5400

DANIEL S. NOBLE (pro hac vice motion pending)
daniel.noble@wilmerhale.com
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP
399 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Telephone: (212) 230-8800
Facsimile: (212) 230-8888

EUGENE MARDER (SBN 275762)
eugene.marder@wilmerhale.com
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP
950 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, California 94304
Telephone: (650) 858-6000
Facsimile: (650) 858-6100

Attorneys for Plaintiffs
TRACEY COOPER-HARRIS and MAGGIE COOPER-HARRIS


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COMPLAINT
CASE NO. ________________
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA



TRACEY COOPER-HARRIS and ) Case No. _________________
MAGGIE COOPER-HARRIS, )
) COMPL AI NT F OR
Plaintiffs, ) DE CL ARAT ORY,
v. ) I NJUNCTI VE, AND OT HER
) RE LI E F
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; )
ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., in his official ) [Violation of Equal Protection
capacity as Attorney General; and ) under the Fifth Amendment
ERIC K. SHINSEKI, in his official capacity ) to the U.S. Constitution]
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, )
)
)
Defendants. )
)



PRELIMINARYSTATEMENT
1. This is an action by a disabled and decorated United States Army veteran
and her same-sex spouse, who seek recognition by the U.S. Department of Veterans
AIIairs ('VA¨) oI their lawIul marriage so that they may receive the same beneIits
afforded to other married veterans and their spouses.
2. Plaintiff Tracey Cooper-Harris ('Tracey¨) served honorably in the United
States Army for approximately twelve years, nine in active duty, reaching the rank of
Sergeant. In 2002, Tracey was deployed to Kyrgyzstan in support of Operation
Enduring Freedom, and in 2003 Tracey was stationed in Kuwait in support of
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COMPLAINT
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Operation Iraqi Freedom, from which she was sent on frequent missions into Iraq.
For Tracey`s distinguished service to the military and our nation, the United States
government awarded her with over two dozen medals and commendations, including
three Army Commendation medals, five Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good
Conduct Medals, and one Air Force Commendation Medal. In 2003, Tracey
completed her military service and received an honorable discharge.
3. In November 2008, Tracey married her same-sex spouse, plaintiff
Maggie Cooper-Harris ('Maggie¨), in Van Nuys, CaliIornia. The State oI CaliIornia
legally recognizes Tracey and Maggie`s marriage and provides them with the same
status, responsibilities, and protections as other legally married couples under state
law.
4. In 2010, Tracey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis by a neurologist at
her local VA hospital. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease that
attacks a person`s brain and central nervous system, and Ior which there is no known
cure. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Tracey began making end-of-life
preparations, including those to ensure some level of financial security for Maggie
aIter Tracey`s death.
5. In 2011, the VA determined that Tracey`s multiple sclerosis is service-
connected. As a result, Tracey receives disability compensation from the VA for her
condition. Tracey also receives disability compensation from the VA for other
service-connected conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder ('PTSD¨), an
anxiety disorder common among veterans that can be triggered by a traumatic event.
6. The VA provides a number of significant benefits to married veterans
and their families, including additional disability benefits; Dependency and Indemnity
Compensation, which provides monthly benefits to a surviving spouse after a veteran
has died from a service-connected injury or disease; and joint burial benefits for the
veteran and the veteran`s spouse at a veterans` cemetery.
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COMPLAINT
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7. Solely because oI Tracey`s sexual orientation and her sex in relation to
her spouse, Tracey is barred from receiving those benefits, which similarly-situated
heterosexual married veterans routinely receive. If Tracey were a man, or if she were
married to a man, she would receive all of the benefits that our nation affords to
married veterans.
8. Solely because oI Maggie`s sexual orientation and her sex in relation to
her spouse, Maggie is barred from receiving those benefits, which similarly-situated
spouses of heterosexual married veterans routinely receive. If Maggie were a man, or
if she were married to a male veteran, she would receive all of the benefits that our
nation affords to spouses of married veterans.
9. In April 2011, Tracey filed a claim with the VA to add Maggie as her
spouse and obtain additional dependency compensation based on her service-
connected conditions. The VA denied Tracey`s claim because the statute that governs
veterans` beneIits deIines 'spouse¨ as 'a person oI the opposite sex who is a wiIe or a
husband.¨ 38 U.S.C. § 101(31). The statute similarly limits 'surviving spouse¨ to 'a
person oI the opposite sex.¨ Id. § 101(3) (collectively 'Title 38¨).
10. Even if Title 38 recognized Tracey and Maggie`s marriage Ior the
purpose oI veterans` beneIits eligibility, Section 3 oI the so-called Defense of
Marriage Act ('DOMA¨) would prevent the VA Irom recognizing their marriage.
DOMA provides that, for purposes of federal statutes, the word 'marriage¨ means
only 'a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wiIe,¨ and the
word 'spouse¨ means only 'a person oI the opposite sex who is a husband or a wiIe.¨
1 U.S.C. § 7.
11. As a result, the VA has denied, and will continue to deny, Tracey and
Maggie the veterans` beneIits that would be available to them iI they were in a
heterosexual marriage. This unequal treatment oI Tracey and Maggie`s marriage
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COMPLAINT
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under federal law demeans not only their marriage but also the remarkable sacrifices
of Tracey, a woman who gave more than nine years of her life in active-duty military
service to this country. This discrimination also demeans the integral role that
Maggielike other spouses of disabled veteransplays in Tracey`s continued health
and well-being.
12. This action seeks declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2201-2202 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 57. It seeks a determination that the definitions of
'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in Title 38 oI the United States Code violate on their
face the United States Constitution by denying benefits to Tracey and Maggie and
other married veterans and their spouses solely because they are married to a person of
the same sex. This action also seeks a determination that DOMA, as applied to
plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution by denying them benefits that
similarly-situated married veterans and their spouses in heterosexual marriages
receive.
JURISDICTIONANDVENUE
13. This action arises under the Constitution of the United States and the
laws of the United States. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2).
14. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e) and 28
U.S.C. § 1402(a)(1) because plaintiffs Tracey Cooper-Harris and Maggie Cooper-
Harris reside in this district and the events giving rise to these claims arose in this
district.
PARTIES
15. Plaintiff Tracey Cooper-Harris is a United States citizen and a resident of
Pasadena, California. She is legally married under the laws of the State of California
to Plaintiff Maggie Cooper-Harris, who is also a United States citizen and a resident
of Pasadena, California.
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COMPLAINT
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16. The United States of America is named as a defendant because this action
challenges the constitutionality of an Act of Congress. See 28 U.S.C. § 2403(a).

17. Defendant Eric H. Holder, Jr., is the duly appointed, confirmed, and
acting Attorney General of the United States. In that official capacity, Defendant
Holder is the federal official responsible for enforcing all federal statutes in
accordance with the Constitution. Defendant Holder is named in his official capacity
only.
18. Defendant Eric K. Shinseki is the duly appointed, confirmed, and acting
Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the United States. In that official capacity, Defendant
Shinseki is the federal official responsible for the administration of Veterans Affairs.
Defendant Shinseki is named in his official capacity only.
FACTS
Tracey Cooper-Harris`s Background and Military Service
19. Tracey Cooper-Harris was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on
February 24, 1973.
20. In January 1991, when she was a senior in high school, Tracey enlisted in
the United States Army. After graduating high school in June 1991, Tracey entered
basic training in July 1991 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
21. Following basic training, Tracey completed advanced individual training
in December 1991 at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research as an Animal Care
Specialist, focusing on the care and maintenance of military working animals. Animal
Care Specialists are trained to perform basic veterinary procedures and assist military
veterinarians with all aspects of animal care so that the military working animals are
able to perform their duties. During the course of her military service, Tracey also
completed advanced training courses in field medical aid, leadership, and combat
lifesaving.
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22. After completing her training, Tracey was assigned to the 64
th
Medical
Detachment and stationed at Bitburg Air Base in Bitburg, Germany, where she served
from January 1992 to December 1993. Tracey was then assigned to the Northeast
District Veterinary Command and stationed at Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine,
where she served from January 1994 to September 1998. Tracey then received orders
to transfer to Seoul, South Korea, where she served with the 129
th
Medical
Detachment at the Yongsan Army Post for approximately one year.
23. In October 1999, Tracey completed her required active duty service and
moved to South Carolina, in part to be close to her then-ailing mother. Tracey
enrolled at Clemson University in the fall of 1999 and joined the South Carolina
National Guard. AIter her mother`s death in June 2001, Tracey withdrew Irom
Clemson and moved to Claremont, California, where she continued her military
service in the Army Reserves with the 109
th
Medical Detachment out of Stanton,
California.
24. In October 2001, the United States commenced Operation Enduring
Freedom in Afghanistan. In July 2002, Tracey was called back to active duty. One
month later, she reported to Camp Doha, the Army`s main military base in Kuwait,
where she then was assigned to the 376
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Expeditionary Medical Group, 376
th
Air
Expeditionary Wing of the United States Air Force in Kyrgyzstan. Around the same
time, Tracey was promoted to Sergeant.
25. While in Kyrgyzstan, Tracey was responsible for the health and well-
being of over fifty military working dogs from the United States and Europe. She
provided medical care to Military Police dogs so that they could safeguard military
bases and detect bombs and explosives to protect the lives of American troops.
Tracey conducted veterinary first-aid training for the handlers of military working
dogs and ensured that the dogs were properly cared for. She also developed a
contingency plan to execute in the event of an attack, explosion, or other emergency
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that might result in the injury of numerous working dogs.
26. According to an Air Force Commendation Medal that Tracey received
from Lieutenant General T. Michael Mosely for her service in Kyrgyzstan, Tracey
'distinguished herselI by outstanding achievement¨ through, among other things,
providing outstanding veterinary care, coordinating emergency veterinary treatment,
developing training in dog handling and first aid, refurbishing the veterinary facilities
'in extremely austere conditions,¨ helping to coordinate a local Iood procurement
program, and being 'always the true team player.¨
27. While Tracey was stationed in Kyrgyzstan, the United States
commenced Operation Iraqi Freedom. In February 2003, Tracey was transferred back
to Camp Doha in Kuwait and was sent on frequent missions into southern Iraq to
assist military veterinarians and maintain the health and well-being of military
working dogs on United States military bases.
28. Over the course of her military career, including her service in
Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Tracey was awarded, among other
honors, three Army Commendation Medals; the Air Force Commendation Medal; five
Army Achievement Medals; two Army Good Conduct Medals; the Armed Forces
Reserve Medal with Mobilization Device; two National Defense Service Medals; an
Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars; the Global War on Terrorism
Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; two Overseas
Service Ribbons; and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
29. Although Tracey`s enlistment contract expired in January 2003, Tracey
did not return to the United States until May 2003 as a result oI the military`s 'stop-
loss¨ program. In June 2003, after more than nine years of active duty and
approximately three years of reserve duty, Tracey was honorably discharged from the
United States Army.
30. After leaving the army, Tracey returned to California. Like many
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soldiers returning from war, Tracey underwent a difficult transition back to civilian
life. Her relationship at the time ended, and she began receiving treatment at her local
VA hospital for PTSD, which continues to this day.
31. After some time, Tracey was able to resume her college studies. In
December 2010, she received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California
State University at Northridge.
32. In January 2012, Tracey was accepted into the Master of Public
Administration program at Clemson University, which she will attend via online
courses.
Tracey and Maggie`s Relationship
33. Tracey first met Maggie when Tracey moved to California in 2001,
during Tracey`s service in the Army Reserves and beIore her deployment to the
Middle East. Tracey and Maggie played on opposing rugby teams and met during a
game.
34. Maggie was born in Ventura County, California, and received a Bachelor
of Arts in Cognitive Science from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, in
1999. Maggie was a teacher until 2009, when she became a transportation
electrician`s apprentice with the International Brotherhood oI Electrical Workers.
35. AIter Tracey returned to CaliIornia in May 2003, she joined Maggie`s
rugby club team. Tracey found a support system in the rugby team, and Maggie and
her roommates at the time offered Tracey a place to stay while Tracey looked for an
apartment during her transition back to civilian life.
36. Tracey and Maggie became close friends and, in the fall of 2005, they
started dating. A year later, Tracey moved in with Maggie.
37. On November 1, 2008, Tracey and Maggie were married in Van Nuys,
California, pursuant to a duly issued marriage license from the State of California.
The State oI CaliIornia legally recognizes Tracey and Maggie`s marriage and provides
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them with the same status, responsibilities, and protections as other legally married
couples under state law.
38. Tracey and Maggie currently reside together in Pasadena, California.
Tracey`s Service-Connected Conditions and Claim for Spousal Benefits
39. Tracey receives monthly disability compensation for a number of
conditions that have been determined by the VA to be service-connected, including
multiple sclerosis and PTSD.
40. On April 19, 2011, Tracey filed VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status
of Dependents, indicating her desire to add her spouse, Maggie, for purposes of
receiving additional dependency compensation that the VA provides to married
disabled veterans. Along with that form, Tracey submitted a copy of the marriage
certificate issued to her and Maggie by the State of California.
41. In a letter dated May 2, 2011, the VA Regional OIIice denied Tracey`s
claim. The sole basis for denial cited by the letter was that 'a veteran may only
receive additional compensatory beneIits Ior a spouse oI the opposite sex.¨
42. Tracey timely filed a Notice of Disagreement along with a request for a
personal hearing. On June 22, 2011, Tracey appeared at a hearing held before a
Decision Review Officer.
43. By letter dated August 8, 2011, the VA Regional Office again denied
Tracey`s claim on the grounds that '|t|he veteran`s marriage is not valid Ior VA
purposes.¨ The letter stated:
For VA purposes and under VA Law 38 CFR 3.50(a) a
veteran may only receive additional compensatory benefits
for a spouse of the opposite sex. Although you have a valid
marriage to Mrs. Maggie Lorraine Cooper in the state of
California, this marriage is not valid under current Federal
Regulations.
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The testimony at your present hearing was very thorough
and complete, however, our regulation defining marriage
states that Ior VA purposes, a 'spouse¨ means a person oI
the opposite sex whose marriage to the veteran meets the
requirements [of] CFR 3.1 (which defines a veteran.)
You are a veteran and have served honorably, however we
must deny your claim for dependency at this time. Your VA
payments will remain as a single veteran.
Federal Benefits for Married Veterans
44. The United States government provides a number of benefits to active
duty military service members, retired service members, and veterans to ease the
burden that military service imposes on a service member and the service member`s
Iamily, as well as to honor the veteran`s service and the sacrifices made by the
veteran`s Iamily, among other reasons. The military oIten emphasizes the importance
of providing support to service members, veterans, and their families in order to
increase recruitment and retention and to boost morale among the troops.
45. One significant benefit that the VA provides to veterans and their
families is compensation for conditions and disabilities that the VA has determined
are 'service-connected.¨ See U.S. Dep`t oI Veterans AIIairs, Federal Benefits for
Veterans, Dependents and Survivors 25-26 (2011), available at
http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book/federal_benefits.pdf (hereinafter
'Dependents and Survivors¨).
46. The VA determines monthly compensation for veterans with service-
connected disabilities based on a system of percentages. For example, under the
current Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Table, a veteran (with no dependents)
who is rated as 10% disabled receives $127 per month; a veteran (with no dependents)
who is rated as 100% disabled receives $2,769 per month. See U.S. Dep`t oI Veterans
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Affairs, Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables Effective 12/1/11,
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp01.htm (last visited Jan. 11, 2012).
47. For veterans who are rated as 30% disabled or higher, VA compensation
increases with the number of dependents that the veteran claims. For example, under
the current Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Table, a veteran who is rated as
30% disabled with no dependents receives $389 per month; a married veteran who is
rated as 30% disabled receives $435 per month; and a married veteran who is rated as
30% disabled with a child receives $469 per month. Compensation also increases
where a veteran has dependent parents. See id.
48. Based on her service-connected conditions, Tracey is currently rated as
80% disabled and is legally married in California. Under the current Veterans
Compensation Benefits Rate Table, married veterans rated as 80% disabled receive
$1,602 per month. However, because Maggie is not recognized by the VA as
Tracey`s legal spouse, Tracey is treated as a single veteran and receives only $1,478
per month.
49. The VA also provides Disability and Indemnity Compensation to
surviving spouses of (1) veterans whose death resulted from a service-connected
injury or disease, and (2) veterans whose death resulted from a non-service-connected
injury or disease and who were receiving, or entitled to receive, VA compensation for
a service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for a specified
number of years. See Dependents and Survivors 103-05. Effective December 1,
2011, eligible surviving spouses are entitled to receive a minimum monthly
compensation of $1,195. See U.S. Dep`t oI Veterans AIIairs, Dependents Indemnity
Compensation Effective 12/1/11, http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp03.htm
(last visited Jan. 11, 2012). Tracey and Maggie are not eligible to receive this benefit
because the VA does not recognize Tracey and Maggie`s marriage and considers
Tracey to be a single veteran.
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50. Another important benefit that the VA provides to veterans and their
spouses is burial beneIits. Burial beneIits include a gravesite at a veterans` cemetery;
a government headstone or marker; a burial flag; spousal burial with the veteran, even
if the spouse predeceases the veteran; inscription oI the veteran`s and spouse`s name
and dates of birth and death; and perpetual care. See Dependents and Survivors
69-72. When Tracey inquired about obtaining burial benefits for her and Maggie, she
was told that Maggie was not eligible to receive those benefits because federal law
does not recognize their marriage and considers Tracey to be a single veteran.
The DeIinition oI 'Spouse¨ in Title 38
51. Title 38 oI the United States Code, which governs veterans` beneIits,
recognizes that the federal government should defer to the states when determining
whether a person is legally married: 'In determining whether or not a person is or was
the spouse of a veteran, their marriage shall be proven as valid for the purposes of all
laws administered by the Secretary according to the law of the place where the parties
resided at the time of the marriage or the law of the place where the parties resided
when the right to beneIits accrued.¨ 38 U.S.C. § 103(c). This includes common law
marriages that are recognized in the jurisdiction where the veteran resides.
52. Another section oI Title 38, however, deIines the term 'spouse¨ as 'a
person oI the opposite sex who is a wiIe or husband.¨ 38 U.S.C. § 101(31).
Similarly, the term 'surviving spouse¨ is deIined as 'a person oI the opposite sex who
was the spouse oI a veteran at the time oI the veteran`s death . . . .¨ Id. § 101(3).
53. The legislative history behind Title 38`s deIinition oI 'spouse¨ as 'a
person oI the opposite sex¨ does not reflect Congressional intent to preclude veterans
in same-sex marriages from obtaining spousal benefits. Rather, this language
represents a legislative effort to create gender equality in the statute. In 1975, two
years after the Supreme Court ruled that the military could not distribute benefits
differently based on gender in Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 93 S. Ct. 1764,
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36 L.Ed.2d 583 (1973), Congress removed references to exclusively male veterans
and their 'widows¨ Irom Title 38. The legislative history of this revision contains no
discussion of veterans who are in same-sex marriages. Instead, the Senate Committee
on Veterans AIIairs explained that it 'add|ed| the term spouse` to mean wiIe or
husband and the term surviving spouse` to mean widow or widower¨ to the deIinition
section oI Title 38 and substituted these terms throughout the title in order 'to
eliminate unnecessary gender reIerences.¨ S. Rep. No. 94-532, at 78 (1975)
(emphasis added). Thus, the deIinition oI 'spouse¨ as a 'person oI the opposite sex¨
maniIests Congress`s commitment to equalitynot intent to deny spousal benefits to
same-sex spouses of veterans or to create a federal definition of marriage for the
purpose of excluding same-sex couples.
54. Although the Congressional intent behind the definitions found at
38 U.S.C. § 101(3) and (31) did not contemplate precluding veterans in same-sex
marriages from receiving spousal benefits, those definitions now bar Tracey and
Maggie from receiving additional benefits solely because of their sexual orientation
and because of their sex in relation to each other.
The Defense of Marriage Act
55. Even iI the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in Title 38
were amended to include same-sex spouses, Section 3 of the so-called Defense of
Marriage Act, Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419 (1996) (codified as amended at 1
U.S.C. § 7) ('DOMA¨), would prohibit the VA Irom recognizing Tracey and
Maggie`s marriage Ior purposes oI determining the couple`s eligibility to receive
benefits.
56. Section 3 of DOMA provides, in pertinent part:
Sec. 3 DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE
(a) IN GENERAL Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code
is amended by adding at the end of the following:
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§7. DeIinition oI marriage` and spouse`
'In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress,
or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various
administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the
word marriage` means only a legal union between one man
and one woman as husband and wife, and the word spouse`
refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband
or a wiIe.¨
57. The federal government does not have a rational basis for, much less a
compelling or important interest in, so deIining 'spouse¨ or 'marriage¨ Ior purposes
of federal benefits and burdens. According to the House Report on DOMA, H.R. Rep.
No. 106-664 (1996), Congress offered four justifications for treating an individual
married to a person of the same sex differently from an individual married to a person
of a different sex. All are irrational.
58. First, Congress claimed that DOMA advances the government`s interest
in defending and nurturing the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage. See id.
at 12. This so-called rationale simply restates the government`s intent to discriminate
against same-sex couples and provides no independent justification for the
government`s discriminatory action. The Iederal government has long accepted state
determinations of marital status, even in the face of changes in marriage licensing by
the states. The only state-licensed marriages it categorically refuses to respect are
those of same-sex couples. The Iederal government`s reIusal to recognize Tracey and
Maggie`s marriage does not nurture, improve, stabilize, or enhance the marriages of
other married couples. Nor would the Iederal government`s recognition oI their
marriage have any negative impact on the marriages of other married couples.
59. Second, Congress claimed an interest in defending traditional notions of
morality. See id. at 15. This so-called justification is simply another reframing of
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Congress`s disapproval oI lesbians and gay men. Lesbians and gay men are a
minority group that has suffered a long history of public and private discrimination.
Discrimination for its own sake is not a legitimate purpose upon which
disadvantageous classifications may be imposed. Moreover, sexual orientation is an
immutable characteristic that bears no relation whatsoever to an individual`s ability to
participate in or contribute to society.
60. Third, Congress claimed that DOMA advances the government`s interest
in protecting state sovereignty and democratic self-governance. See id. at 16. On the
contrary, DOMA infringes state sovereignty because it refuses to respect state
decisions as to the licensing and recognition oI marriages, a key component oI states`
long-recognized authority to regulate domestic relations. Prior to DOMA`s passage,
states such as California determined the marital status of their citizens, and the federal
government deIerred to a state`s determination oI marriage in the application oI
federal law. Far from protecting state sovereignty in enacting DOMA, Congress in
fact violated the sovereignty of the states that license or recognize marriages of same-
sex couples.
61. Fourth, Congress claimed that DOMA advances the government`s
interest in preserving scarce government resources. See id. at 18. In fact, according
to the Congressional Budget Office, the recognition of marriages of same-sex couples
will not deplete scarce government resources; rather, recognition of same-sex
marriages will increase annual net federal revenue. See Cong. Budget Office, U.S.
Cong., The Potential Budgetary Impact of Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages 1 (June
21, 2004), http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/55xx/doc5559/06-21-SameSexMarriage.pdf.
Moreover, while the Iederal government`s Iiscal health is always a matter oI concern,
the government cannot advance this interest by singling out a similarly-situated
minority group, such as individuals in same-sex marriages, for discrimination based
on their sexual orientation and sex in relation to the sex of their spouse. There was
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and is no valid justification to deny veterans and their same-sex spouses the federal
benefits available to similarly-situated veterans and their spouses in heterosexual
marriages.
FIRSTCLAIMFORRELIEF
62. Plaintiffs re-allege and incorporate by reference each and every allegation
contained in the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.
63. As a result oI the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in
38 U.S.C. § 101 (3) and (31), the federal government treats veterans in same-sex
marriages differently from veterans in heterosexual marriages. Because of this
disparity in treatment, Tracey Cooper-Harris is unable to have her spouse recognized
by the VA and receive all the benefits afforded to similarly-situated married veterans
based solely on her sexual orientation and her sex in relation to the sex of her spouse.
64. As a result oI the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in
38 U.S.C. § 101 (3) and (31), the federal government treats the spouses of veterans in
same-sex marriages differently from the spouses of veterans in heterosexual
marriages. Because of this disparity in treatment, Maggie Cooper-Harris is not
recognized as a spouse by the VA and is ineligible to receive all the benefits afforded
to similarly-situated spouses of married veterans based solely on her sexual
orientation and her sex in relation to the sex of her spouse.
65. Because the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in 38 U.S.C.
§ 101 (3) and (31) on their face require this disparity of treatment with regard to
veterans` eligibility Ior spousal beneIits Irom the VA, the deIinitions create a
classification that singles out one class of valid marriagesthose of same-sex
couplesand subjects persons in those marriages to differential treatment compared
to other similarly-situated married couples without justification in violation of the
right to equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States.
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SECONDCLAIMFORRELIEF
66. Plaintiffs re-allege and incorporate by reference each and every allegation
contained in the preceding paragraphs as if set forth fully herein.
67. Even iI the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in 38 U.S.C.
§ 101(3) and (31) allowed Ior recognition oI a veteran`s spouse oI the same sex,
DOMA prevents the VA from recognizing veterans in legal same-sex marriages.
Accordingly, Tracey Cooper-Harris would continue to be denied the recognition of
her spouse by the VA and the benefits afforded to similarly-situated married veterans
based solely on her sexual orientation and her sex in relation to the sex of her spouse.

68. Even iI the deIinitions oI 'spouse¨ and 'surviving spouse¨ in 38 U.S.C.
§ 101(3) and (31) allowed Ior recognition oI a veteran`s spouse oI the same sex,
DOMA prevents the VA from recognizing veterans in legal same-sex marriages.
Accordingly, Maggie Cooper-Harris would continue to be denied the recognition as a
spouse by the VA and the benefits afforded to other similarly-situated spouses of
married veterans based solely on her sexual orientation and her sex in relation to the
sex of her spouse.
69. Because DOMA, as applied to plaintiffs, requires this disparity of
treatment with regard to their eligibility to receive spousal benefits from the VA, it
creates a classification that singles out one class of legal marriagesthose of same-
sex couplesand subjects the persons in those marriages to differential treatment
compared to similarly-situated married couples without justification in violation of the
right to equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States.
PRAYERFORRELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs Tracey Cooper-Harris and Maggie Cooper-Harris
pray for relief as follows:
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a. A declaration that paragraphs (3) and (31) of 38 U.S.C. § 101 violate, on
their face, the right to equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States.
b. A declaration that Section 3 of DOMA, 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to the
plaintiffs, violates the right to equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States.
c. Enjoin the defendants from continuing to discriminate against Tracey
Cooper-Harris by treating her differently from similarly-situated veterans in
heterosexual marriages and refusing to recognize Maggie Cooper-Harris as her
spouse.

d. Enjoin the defendants from continuing to discriminate against Maggie
Cooper-Harris by treating her differently from similarly-situated spouses of veterans
in heterosexual marriages and refusing to recognize Tracey Cooper-Harris as her
spouse.
e. Award the plaintiIIs costs and reasonable attorneys` Iees and expenses
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412 or other applicable statute.
f. Such other relief as the Court deems just and appropriate.

DATED: February 1, 2012

Respectfully submitted,

WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE
AND DORR LLP



BY:___________________________________
RANDALL R. LEE
350 South Grand Avenue, Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 443-5300
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randall.lee@wilmerhale.com


On behalf of Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Tracey Cooper-Harris and Maggie Cooper-
Harris

ACTIVEUS 92402934v1

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